Miami Plastic Surgeon Sues Two Patients For Negative Reviews After He Had Them Sign Illegal Non Disparagement Agreements

from the this-again dept

What is it with plastic surgeons suing their former customers over negative reviews? We've written stories with that basic plotline over and over and over again. The latest involves Miami-based plastic surgeon Dr. Leonard Hochstein, who the article lets us know, has appeared on "The Real Housewives of Miami." Except, now he's getting attention for suing two of his former clients who left negative reviews online. Even though there's now a law, the Consumer Review Fairness Act, that bars anyone from forcing customers to sign a non-disparagement clause, Hochstein did so anyway. He insists he only recently became aware of that law. But he won't stop suing those customers.

His quotes are truly a work of art.

"I didn't have a choice, this is the last thing you want to do," said Dr. Hochstein.

Yeah, let's review this for a second: you did have a choice. You had lots of choices. You didn't need to sue. Indeed, you shouldn't have sued. Because before this, what people knew of your reputation, was that (and I'm not making this up), you were called "the Boob God." I mean, you even promoted yourself that way:

And, now, your name is splashed all over the news as the boob who decided to sue his patients over a few negative reviews. So you had a choice. And you chose unwisely.

"All I ever wanted was for people to be honest," he said.

Okay. Here's some honesty: don't (1) force people to sign illegal contracts that say they can't ever say anything negative about you, and (2) don't then sue those customers. Beyond being illegal under the Consumer Review Fairness Act, the agreement didn't say "be honest in your reviews." It said that your customers are not allowed to post "negative reviews or disparaging comments or statements about Dr. Leonard Hochstein or his employees." So, it's bullshit that you wanted people to be honest, because if they were honestly negative about you, you were telling them they had to shut up. And now you're suing them.

The article notes that the law doesn't prevent Hochstein from suing his patients, though now that he's getting attention for this, I'd image the FTC or potentially Florida's Attorney General might want to look into the fact that he made a bunch of patients sign such agreements. But still, Hochstein appears to have no intention of backing down:

Dr. Hochstein says he's moving forward with both cases.

"Be honest, tell the truth," he said. "There's nothing wrong with saying 'I didn't like my surgery, I didn't like how it went' and just stop there, don't make things up."

Once again, I feel the need to point out that the contract Hochstein made his clients sign would not have, in fact, allowed them to say "I didn't like my surgery." Because it forbade all negative reviews.

Over the weekend, it was reported that, far from backing down, Hochstein has now asked a court to throw his former client in jail for continuing to talk about the case.

According to legal documents obtained by The Blast, Hochstein filed a motion for bodily attachment against Kristen LaPointe, which in basically asks a judge to lock her up until she removes all negatives posts about the doctor as a part of a court order.

Unfortunately, despite "obtaining" those legal documents, The Blast didn't actually post them, so we have to rely on what they claim. Similarly, the NBC article above doesn't link to the actual court records, and a quick search of the Miami Dade court records online finds other unrelated lawsuits involving a Dr. Leonard Hochstein, but not the cases discussed here. So perhaps there are more details here, but doctors suing patients over reviews is never a good look -- especially after having them sign a non-disparagement clause. Asking to lock up patients for their reviews is even worse. And since Hochstein claims he was unaware of the Consumer Review Fairness Act, he might also be unaware of Florida's anti-SLAPP law. He might want to familiarize himself with it, because it certainly seems like he might run into some issues with that law as well.

Filed Under: anti-slapp, boob god, crfa, leonard hochstein, non-disparagement clause, reviews, slapp suits

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